After spending one and a half months in detention while facing imminent deportation, Mark J. Farrales ’01 has been granted a one-year deferral, a delay to the immigration proceedings against him that has resulted in his release from federal detention.
On November 17, Farrales, a UC San Diego graduate student, put plans to complete his dissertation on hold when he opened the door to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on the step of his Los Angeles home. He was arrested and detained at Mira Loma Detention Center in Lancaster, California.
At age 10, Farrales was brought to the United States by his parents only a few days after two alleged hit men shot his father, Jaime Farrales, twice in the head near his home in the Philippines. Farrales’ father survived and fled with his family to Los Angeles where they sought political asylum.
However, with Jaime’s unexpected death in June of 2006, the battle to achieve legal status also died.
Meanwhile, Farrales assimilated in the United States and thrived academically, graduating magna cum laude from the College with a concentration in Government. His dissertation at UCSD seeks to address government efforts to combat corruption.
But while he advanced academically, he was unable to achieve legal residency, and in mid-November ICE agents arrested him and placed him in detention. His case rose to prominence as friends, family, and political leaders rallied on his behalf. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times reported on his case.
“I’m not 100 percent sure of the series of discussions on the part of ICE that led to my deferral, but I know Congressman Sherman’s office was involved and contacted the ICE on my behalf,” Farrales said. “My inmate number was called over the PA system. I showed up to the room, where some paperwork was ready. Officials said ‘You’re leaving today.’”
Farrales said his lawyer Leon Hazany, a Los Angeles immigration attorney, filed a motion with the Board of Immigration Appeals to reopen his own asylum case—separate from his father’s—to land a court hearing. Farrales said previous attorneys gave him poor advice; he was told that he did not need to file for a student visa, as his case was coupled with his father’s.
Rep. Brad Sherman, the local Democratic congressman, contacted ICE officials and expressed concern regarding the handling of the case of Farrales, who is his constituent.
“My office was informed that Mr. Farrales received a deferral of his deportation and was released from detention in time to spend the holidays with his family,” said Sherman in an e-mailed statement. “I am pleased by this outcome and my staff will continue to monitor Mr. Farrales's situation."
Farrales’s federal representatives—the two Democratic California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer in addition to Congressman Sherman—reviewed his case to consider introducing a private immigration bill, said Nicolas E. Jofre ’13, co-director of Harvard College Act on a DREAM. But Jofre added that only two such measures have been approved since 2005.
ICE said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times before Farrales's release that courts have “consistently held that Mr. Farrales does not have legal basis to remain in the United States.”